I want to clear up another misconception about gamification. Maybe this is obvious when you think about it, but in my conversations with executives, they haven’t really thought it through yet.
Gamification is not a project like most other projects. You can’t just “set it and forget it” and expect it to show results.
A gamification program turns out to be a living, breathing thing – a set of tools and capabilities – that just start to have an impact on the business when your people start interacting with it. With gamification you give your managers a structured framework and a set of tools to influence workers’ changing behaviors in a changing workplace.
Did you ever play SimCity or one of its followers? Remember when you added civic improvements the population would respond? Put in an airport and flights would arrive with additional commerce and tourism. Put in a police station and crime would abate. Zone the land for residences and if there is enough activity, houses would be built. These behavioral incentives are the levers for building vibrant and healthy cities – both in the game and in the real world. And because the city environment is constantly changing, you as a city manager keep adjusting those levers to keep the city running and the population happy.
You can look at employee gamification the same way. When you hire an associate and pay them a wage, it guarantees (maybe) that they will arrive at work on time, treat you with a degree of respect, and complete what they consider to be a fair day’s work. With gamification you can incentivize associates (1) to improve their performance and (2) to modify their behaviors to adapt to changing business conditions. These incentives – missions, points, levels and awards – become your “levers” to align your associates’ behaviors with the changing needs of the business.
So, lets bust this myth that Gamification is mainly a method to fool associates into thinking that work is more fun. Yes, we are leveraging the “fun” experience of games to encourage employees to participate in achieving business goals. But more important, you should view gamification as a powerful set of tools that managers can use to optimize the behaviors and activities of the people working for them in a constantly changing business environment.
Stuart Silverman has designed, installed and marketed the full spectrum of systems used to provide competitive edge for retail organizations.